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Title:Tectonic sites: structuring the landscape with textile-derived construction techniques
Author(s):Broughton, Janet
Advisor(s):Fulton, Gale
Department / Program:Landscape Architecture
Discipline:Landscape Architecture
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
landscape architecture
tectonic theory
Abstract:Tectonic theory has a rich tradition in architecture. Tectonics can be briefly defined as the “poetics of construction” (Frampton, 2001). Discussion of tectonics has guided architects toward expressive construction and even pushed the discipline to redefine itself as one concerned with the creation of space, not symbolic form. Despite its influence in our allied profession, a tectonic theory of landscape architecture remains undeveloped. This thesis explores the role of such a theory in landscape architecture, guided by the development of tectonic theory in architecture. Key moments in the development of architectural tectonic theory were Gottfried Semper’s focus on textiles in shaping a new origin point and theory of style for architecture in the late 19th century, and Kenneth Frampton’s description of a tectonic theory at the turn of the 21st century. The landscape-specific potential of Semper and Frampton’s ideas are revealed in my analysis of over one hundred landscapes that used textiles in their construction and model making. Textiles are porous and flexible, uniquely suiting them to integrating, responding to, and even structuring landscape contingency. Textiles visibly intertwine with materials and organisms. They symbolize the integration of humans and their materials with other nature: the “natural cyborg” (Marrati, 2010). These concepts provide the basis for a possible tectonic theory of landscape architecture and could even give shape to a new myth of origin that replaces the definition of landscape gardening as an imitative art, as proposed by John Claudius Loudon over a century ago, with an alternative firmly grounded in landscape-specific constructive practice. The adoption of tectonic theory based on these ideas would require landscape architects to act not as stewards but as actualized natural agents; to realize and engage the constructive potentials of contingency and time; to embrace and develop new expectations for successful design and aesthetics; and develop strong political and ethical stances.
Issue Date:2012-09-18
Rights Information:Copyright 2012 Janet Broughton
Date Available in IDEALS:2012-09-18
Date Deposited:2012-08

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